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Posted on 07-24-2017

Creating a Foundation of Safety

So our new crate has arrived and we are ready to move on to the next step in having Simba learn that his crate in not such a bad place to be.

One thing that is important to all animals is having a place where they feel safe and secure. My goal is to reduce Simba’s association of his crate with a negative experience, which in this case is getting him to his veterinary appointments.

I assembled his crate and put in on a table (cats prefer to be elevated) in his favorite napping spot which was by a window in our dining room. I sprayed some of the Feliway Spray on a soft towel and put it into his carrier. Feliway is a synthetic version of the cat facial pheromone. When the cat senses the feliway, his brain gets the message that he is in a safe, stress-free environment. His new napping spot was ready but, where was Simba? After searching to find him I located him under my bed. Hmm, that was not the answer I was looking for.

Two days went by and Simba had no interest in his crate. This is a cat that will jump into any type of box, bags of all shapes and sizes, basically you name it and he is in it, even if he barely fits. Day three he finally made his way over to the carrier, sniffed it a bit and then walked away. After some thought, I decided to remove the door to see if it would help. I thought he might associate “no door “meant “no confinement”. What the heck it was a shot. Several more days went by and still no interaction.

Have you ever reached the point where you are ready to give up and then the thing you wanted to have happen finally does? Well, it finally happened. I came home on my lunch break to give my dog Cotton a potty break and guess who I found sleeping in his new carrier? Yes! Simba was taking a nap in his carrier!

Simba-in-carrier

Simba in his new carrier.

After watching several of the modules of the Fear Free training I decided I was going to start from scratch with Simba and see if I could make his trips to the vet a more enjoyable experience.

Several weeks have gone by and Simba naps daily in his carrier. I started including playtime sessions in his carrier as well. We use the fishing pole to entice him in and out of it and his light blanket offers some cool places to hide things, such as his toy mice. Step two has been completed. He now has a positive association with the carrier. In animal behavior terms we are working on desensitizing Simba to his carrier. Because he has learned that the carrier means going to the vet we now want to teach him that his carrier does not always mean going to the vet. Our goal is to have him view his carrier as an icon of safety so; when he does have to go to the vet he will feel safe when in his carrier.

I hope you will join me on the next step of our journey, adding confinement.

Susan

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